Speed Up Hiring Without Compromising Quality

Nov 28, 2014

Earlier this year, Dr. John Sullivan wrote a piece for ERE detailing the top 12 reasons why slow hiring damages recruiting — and hurts business results. Sullivan quotes a candidate who dropped out of the running for a coveted position because the hiring manager took too long to respond:

It’s not like I need their job. If it takes them a week to respond to a resume like mine for a job of this importance, they’re not the kind of company I want to work for. I move fast, and I can already see that my style wouldn’t fit in their culture. — Wind River Associates

It’s true that slow hiring puts you at a big disadvantage in the recruiting process. As Dr. Sullivan argues, moving too slowly can lead you to miss out on top candidates, lose revenue and productivity, and even damage your reputation as an employer and an organization. And with average time to fill at 25 days, its longest duration since 2001, there’s a good chance that many companies are feeling these effects.

However, there’s also risk involved when it comes to hiring too quickly. If you make an impulsive decision because you’re worried about losing a candidate to another company, you could end up hiring a candidate who’s a bad fit — and who ends up being a bad investment.

When it comes to hiring, talent acquisition professionals should follow the Goldilocks principle. The hiring process shouldn’t be too slow, and it shouldn’t be too fast.

The right pace depends on several things: the size of your organization, your company culture, the position you’re hiring for, and even the individual candidate. A company with 10 employees may want to spend more time getting to know a candidate than a company with 500 employees. Some candidates may seem like a perfect fit right away, while others may take several rounds of interviews.

To get the top talent — and ensure that they’re a good fit for your company, find the right pace for your hiring process.

Below are a few things to remember to help you do just that.

You’re Not in a Vacuum

In an ideal world, you’d have as long as you needed to carefully evaluate candidates — without worrying that they’d be snapped up by another organization. But in reality, the best candidates aren’t sitting around waiting for you to call them back. They’re either working happily at their current jobs — or they’re out there applying for positions at other companies.

It’s no surprise that the best candidates are going to accept jobs at the companies that seem to want them most — not the ones that leave them hanging for weeks on end. And it’s likely that while you’re deliberating, your top choices are receiving offers from other companies. The moral of the story: if you don’t hire top talent fast, someone else will. If you’re sure (or even sort of sure) about a potential hire, go with your gut before someone else grabs them out from under you.

Every Position Is Different

Every company wants to hire great, talented employees who will fit in well at their organizations. However, every company also has different hiring priorities — and they’re likely also different for every open position.

Maybe for one position, you need to fill an empty desk as quickly as possible. But maybe for another, you’re looking for an executive-level candidate who’s a perfect fit — regardless of how long it might take. No two open positions or two candidates are the same, so don’t treat the hiring process like they are. Take the time you need to evaluate each candidate accurately and fill each position effectively, and treat each hiring process as a unique experience (so long as you’re not sacrificing productivity or losing out on top candidates).

Forget About Perfection

Of course, every recruiter and hiring manager would love to have a perfect track record when it comes to new hires. But the truth is, that’s impossible. Candidates put their best foot forward on resumes (in fact, 60 percent of hiring managers say they’ve caught a lie on a resume) and job applications, and they’re on their best behavior during the interview process. That makes it hard to get a true read on what they’re like every day. Moreover, it’s hard to predict what it will be like to work with someone until you actually work with them.

In fact, according to a recent study by LeadershipIQ, 46 percent of new hires fail within the first 18 months of taking a job. With a success rate like that, it doesn’t make sense to agonize too much over hiring decisions — chances are, some of them won’t work out anyway. So avoid the trap of analysis paralysis. Ask the right questions, find out all the information you can, and make the best decision you can, of course — but at a certain point, just evaluate the data you have and make a hire. Whether it works out or it doesn’t — in either case, you’re in good company.

You can speed up hiring without compromising the quality of your new hires. Three important steps to take:

  1. Identify and remove the delays in your process. Today, the average time to fill is 24.9 days. Ideally, that time should be 2 to 3 weeks, maximum. Examine your recruiting and hiring processes to find out where the delays are, and figure out ways to remove or reduce them. Do you have each candidate go through three phone interviews? See if you can cut that down to two, or preferably even one. Do you ask for references only after you decide to offer a position to a candidate? Consider asking for references up front instead, to reduce the turnaround time needed to contact and hear back from those references. Or  don’t check references for anything but executive hires, as they are most likely all staged referrals who know you’re calling and why. Even these small steps can add up to make a big impact.
  2. Find and embrace new technologies. Many organizations are reluctant to disrupt processes that work — even if they don’t work all that well. However, new and emerging technologies can make a huge difference when it comes to shrinking time to hire. Where are the newest, most innovative technologies are focusing their efforts? Candidate assessments. New programs are allowing hiring managers to evaluate complex candidate skills remotely and in real-time — and collect useful data while they do it. lets recruiters and hiring managers watch front-end web developers code test assignments in real-time. HackerRank helps HR create challenges and tests to administer to programming candidates. Codility helps managers test coders on actual coding skills in 15 programming languages. These tools are allowing companies to determine where a candidate has skills — and gaps — down to the individual function Java.
  3. Question your assumptions and reevaluate your methods. Constantly question your assumptions and reevaluate your hiring and recruiting processes. Habit is a bad reason to continue to do something. For each and every aspect of your hiring process, ask yourself “why.” Why is it part of your process? What — if anything — does it yield? If your only answer is “Because we’ve always done it” — or, even worse, “It doesn’t yield anything,” then scrap it, and replace it with something that works. You can’t increase efficiency if you don’t improve processes, and you can’t improve processes if you don’t question them — and measure them — constantly.

Is it better to hire fast, take your time, or find a balance of the two? How fast do you move with recruiting?

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